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Sharks' victory over Exeter has given Cueto renewed belief

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

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Mark Cueto believes Sale Sharks have started to "hit the ground running" in their bid for Aviva Premiership survival.

Sale, five points adrift at the basement with eight games left, face another huge encounter tomorrow when they tackle tenth-placed London Welsh in Oxford.

Victory over the Premiership newcomers would strengthen Sale's hopes of remaining in top-flight English rugby, with the Kassam Stadium clash coming just nine days after they beat Exeter Chiefs.

"Hopefully, if everything goes to plan and we survive, I think we will look back at the end of the season and look at the game against Exeter as the turning point," former England wing Cueto said.

"Momentum and confidence are building. Not that the confidence wasn't there, but you need wins and results to back up that confidence.

"We can sit here after losing a game and say 'we still believe' and everything else, but the bottom line is you need wins to back that up.

"Having said that, each time we seem to close the gap it opens up again the next day. But the most important thing is that we are starting to hit the ground running.

"The confidence is coming and the things that we've been pushing all season are starting to come together. All we can do is look after ourselves."

London Welsh, who have Gavin Henson back on duty at fly-half this weekend, are firmly in the relegation mix themselves, but coach Lyn Jones knows there are many twists and turns still ahead.

"The boys are really looking forward to Sunday's game – there has been a really good atmosphere all week in training," he said. "Sunday is an opportunity for us to try to close the gap on Worcester in the table, but there is still a very long way to go in the season after the Sale game."

London Irish, one place above Sale and one behind London Welsh, gave themselves a major lift with last week's impressive win against title-chasing Saracens, and they will look for a repeat performance at Bath today.

"We can only focus on ourselves and get ourselves right, that's where our emphasis is," Irish lock George Skivington said.

"We know what is going on around us, but we can only control what we can control. We are fighting for our lives in the Premiership."

Northampton's title play-off hopes suffered a blow with a comprehensive home loss to Gloucester last time out, and they will head to Worcester tomorrow knowing that another defeat would see them slip further behind the pace.

"We've had open and honest discussions among the coaches and players this week, as we do every week," Saints rugby director Jim Mallinder said.

"There were some good aspects to our play last week – we created chances and could have scored three more tries than we did – but we were also sloppy in areas, especially defence, and we've worked hard to tighten things up.

"Worcester can put in big performances. They've got some experienced and influential players in their squad, and we will have to be streetwise as well as increase our intensity, physicality and accuracy from last week."

London Welsh versus Sale apart, tomorrow's other Premiership game sees fourth-placed Wasps hoping to continue their resurgent form at the expense of Adams Park visitors Gloucester, who are two points behind them in fifth.

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